Health professionals have praised Nottingham’s positive steps over the past decade since the national smoking ban was brought in – but insisted there is still work to be done.
It was at 6am on July 1, 2007, that smoking was outlawed for indoor public spaces and workplaces across England – overnight the image of smoky pubs, cafes and offices was consigned to history.
The aim was to protect workers and the general public from the dangers of second-hand smoke and research undertaken in the months which followed showed that exposure for people working in bars and clubs had fallen by 95%.
Local authorities were tasked with ensuring compliance and in the months following the smokefree legislation, the East Midlands – including Nottingham City – had one of the highest levels in the country.
In 2006, a year ahead of the national legislation, Nottingham City Council was one of the first authorities in the country to introduce a smokefree workplace policy which placed greater restrictions on smoking at work to motivate more staff to quit.
Since then, the Council has:
- Brought in a voluntary smoking ban at playgrounds and school gates in 2011
- Passed a motion at Full Council in 2014 pledging to introduce more smokefree public places where citizens wanted them
- Implemented five-year Tobacco Control Strategies in 2009 and 2015
- Made the popular Beach event in Old Market Square smokefree for the first time in 2015
- Launched a ‘Smokefree Summer’ programme of family events in 2016 where smokers were asked not to light up – this has since been adopted by many other local authorities
All of which have seen smoking prevalence fall from nearly four-in-10 adults (39%) in 2009 to 25% in 2017. However, Nottingham still considerably trails the national average of 17%.
Smoking remains the single biggest risk to public health and is the number one cause of preventable ill health and early death. In Nottingham between January 2012 and December 2014, 1,242 people aged 35 and over died of smoking-related causes.
Councillor Nick McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health at Nottingham City Council, said: “We’ve made tremendous strides in Nottingham as we approach the tenth anniversary of the national smokefree legislation. It seems absurd now to imagine walking into a smoky pub or being asked in a restaurant whether you’d prefer a table in the smoking section.
“Locally, we’ve really embraced these laws and looked to introduce more smokefree areas around the city where the public has told us they want them. At the same time we’ve actively promoted stop-smoking services, like New Leaf, to help people quit.
“Ultimately our aim is to inspire a smokefree generation, de-normalise the habit and take smoking out of the sight of children. Thousands of people in Nottingham have quit over the past decade, which is great news, but we know as a city we need to do more.
“There are still too many adults smoking in Nottingham and we trail the national average considerably. However, there has never been a better time to quit and all the support you need is available.”
Alison Challenger, Director of Public Health at Nottingham City Council, added: “I’m really proud of the progress that has been made in the city over the past 10 years. Quitting smoking is not easy and I pay tribute to all those people who have successfully stopped.
“We should rightly celebrate the fact that our adult smoking prevalence rates have fallen sharply since 2009, but we still have work to do to narrow the gap against the national average.
“There are still too many people smoking and their habit is causing a considerable amount of poor health and chronic disease.
“There are also generational cycles of smoking in Nottingham which we must help people to break. Our children need to grow up in a city where tobacco is seen as the exception rather than the rule.”
Anyone wanting more information or support to stop smoking can contact New Leaf on 0800 561 2121 or 0115 883 1540, text NEW to 80800 or visit https://www.newleafstopsmoking.co.uk